UMC Surgeons Implant New Heart Assist Device

George Humphrey
May 30, 2001

The University Medical Center Cardiothoracic Surgery Team today performed another medical first in Arizona.

Led by noted heart surgeon Jack G. Copeland, UMC chief of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery, the team successfully implanted the Arrow LionHeart, a fully implantable mechanical heart assist device, in a 66-year-old man from Sun Lakes, Ariz. The approximately 6 Ó -hour surgery was completed at about 4 p.m.

The patient, William Mackay, 66, who was suffering from congestive heart failure, is the fifth individual in the United States to receive this new device, the first fully implantable left ventricular assist system.

Designed for patients with end-stage congestive heart failure, the LionHeart marks a significant advancement in mechanical circulatory support technology because the system is totally implanted. Energy from an external battery pack is transmitted across the skin via an 8-pound battery pack to power the system and charge an implanted battery pack -- instead of using lines or cables that come through the skin and connect to a power source, technology used in other heart assist devices. Patients carry the external battery pack with a shoulder harness or a backpack, or pull it on a handcart.

The LionHeart works alongside the patient's own heart, helping the left ventricle pump blood to the body more efficiently. The device is not temporarily implanted for patients awaiting heart transplants, but rather is a permanent treatment for patients who are ineligible for transplantation.

The first U.S. implantation of the LionHeart took place Feb. 28 at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Penn. The device also has been implanted in several patients in Europe.

In addition to UMC and Hershey Medical Center, the other centers participating in the trial for this device are the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Loyola University Medical Center and the University of Iowa Medical Center.

The Arrow LionHeart was co-developed with Penn State's Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and is manufactured by Arrow International, Reading, Penn. The device offers a potential option for the estimated 40,000 U.S. patients who die each year from congestive heart failure (CHF). For CHF patients no longer responsive to medical management, the only significant treatment option available today is to qualify for one of the estimated 2,300 donor hearts available for transplant each year.




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